A young man decided that he was going to be a mass murderer and on January 8, 2011 he opened fire on innocent men, women and children with a Glock handgun. The apparent target of his murderous rage was a Democratic Congresswoman from the 8th District of Arizona. He shot her in the head at point-blank range. Why he went on shooting people, including a 9-year-old girl, is unclear, at least to me, and I hope we get some answers soon.
As horrific as this act of violence is, tragic and unbelievably criminal is the only way I can describe it, two things that have occurred in the days since the murders have me asking how this can be.
Sales of the very same Glock handgun used by the assassin have surged in Arizona and handgun sales overall have increased nationally. The same thing happened in 2007 after the mass murders at Virginia Tech. I don’t know what causes this seemingly inverted response to horrific gun violence. Perhaps the violent homicidal acts create a defensive response and the guns are purchased for protection. But when you combine these reflexive gun purchases (buying the same model handgun used by the murderer is eerie) with the results of a poll taken immediately following the murder attempt of a Congresswoman, I’m left dumbfounded by my fellow American citizens.
45% of Americans polled believe the murders were politically motivated with 22% saying they didn’t know. Seeing how he deliberately went to a previously announced public appearance by Congresswoman Giffords and shot her in the head at point-blank range, I’m surprised less than half felt politics were a motivator. What is most shocking to me is that 16% of those polled said violence against the government is justified. 28% of those polled who indicated they were Republicans felt it was justified.
Now I don’t know what level of violence they were referring to, although any level is abhorrent and criminal, but in light of the mass murders days before the poll, to find almost 3 in 10 Republicans saying they felt violence against government, presumably including government officials, was justified is stunning. Self proclaimed Democrats and Independents still registered 11% who supported violence against the government.
I don’t know what to make of this honestly except to consider the wisdom of Ironlung, lead singer for Scissorfight when he growls, “the most dangerous animal is me.”